Illinois retailer shipping 7,000 extra doses of flu vaccine to its pharmacies

The Illinois-based supermarket chain Jewel-Osco plans to ship 7,000 extra doses of the seasonal influenza vaccine to its pharmacies in Illinois, Iowa and Indiana.

With the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calling this season's outbreak an epidemic, approximately 170 Jewel-Osco pharmacies will be better prepared for the unimmunized. Deliveries are expected to begin on January 15 and continue to the following day. Delivery dates will vary, so customers have been advised to call ahead for more information.

The retailer can administer the traditional flu shot, needle-free FluMist nasal spray and Fluzone, the high-dosage version of the vaccine for those 65 and older. The CDC is currently recommending that everyone above the age of six be vaccinated.

The CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report recently issued early estimates of the seasonal vaccine's effectiveness in the United States. The official early estimated effectiveness of the vaccine at preventing laboratory-confirmed influenza virus infection was approximately 62 percent, although final estimates are expected to differ slightly.

The CDC said the early estimates underscore that some of those who are vaccinated will become infected with influenza. Therefore, antiviral medication is recommended regardless of vaccination status.

The United States is currently experiencing high levels of influenza-like illness in almost every state.